Three names are credited with the production of this
book. The idea that developed into this project was first mooted by Alex
WATSON. In his doctoral thesis he had re-edited much of the Buddhist section of
the Paramoksanitasakarikavrtti on the basis of two
Devanagari manuscripts and parallel passages in others of Ramakantha's
texts, and in 2002
he suggested to
Dominic GOODALL that they work together on a critical edition and first
translation of the whole Buddhist section. Dominic GOODALL was immediately
enthusiastic about covering not just this one section, but the whole text. From
our first reading sessions together in the Pondicherry Centre of the Ecole francaise d'Extreme-Orient, S. L. P. ANJANEYA SARMA not only took part, but took the role of the
expounder of the text as it was then constituted, drawing attention to
anomalies of style, grammatical difficulties and resolutions, and to parallel
discussions in other branches of literature.
Dominic GOODALL took up the task of collating the
readings of the various sources and furnishing a preliminary edition to serve
as the basis for discussion.
It was to Alex WATSON that the lion's share of the work
fell, for he logged our vigorous discussions and, for most passages of the
work, drafted out the first translation. The majority of the annotation too is
his, as is
the introduction (except for the section entitled 'Sources').
Over the years, various people too numerous to
remember, let alone list, participated in our reading sessions and offered
suggestions. To these should be added the participants of the various sessions
of the "International Intensive Sanskrit Summer Retreats"
(co-organised by the EFEO and the Indo European Studies department of Eotvos-
Lorand University, Budapest) at
which parts of the text were studied. Their emendations and comments are
recorded from time to time in our apparatus and notes. Four individuals made an
especially important contribution and their names will be found rather frequently.
The first is Professor MANI DRAVIDA, who kindly came to Pondicherry on several
occasions to expound particularly rich sections of the text that baffled us. He
did so with his characteristic magisterial ease and clarity, invariably leading
us to reconsider our interpretations of several points. The second, Professor
Alexis SANDERSON, attended no reading session, but generously furnished us with
his annotated photocopy of the Devakottai edition.
His jottings led us to important parallels and pointed up a number of
corruptions in the transmission of the text. The third, Professor Harunaga ISAACSON, discussed many tricky passages with us
through e-mails, Skype and on his visits to Pondicherry. The fourth is
Professor Kei KATAOKA, who not only furnished us with crucial photographs at
the beginning of the project, but also sent us lists of corrections in its
final hours. To each of them we owe a considerable debt of gratitude.
We are grateful too to the two anonymous readers for
their suggestions and to the following libraries for allowing us to consult and
to photograph or copy manuscripts used for our work:·
the French Institute of Pondicherry; the Oriental Research Institute, Mysore;
the Government Oriental Manuscripts Library, Madras; the Adyar Library; the Dharmapuram Adheenam; and the
Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Pune. We benefitted too, of course (as
does almost every manuscript-related in do logical project in this day and
age), from the use of microfilms made by the Nepal-German Manuscripts Preservation
Project, for even though no manuscript transmitting our text survives in Nepal,
our annotation draws upon other works that are transmitted there.
A word about the style of the translation is perhaps
expected. It will at once be obvious that it does not read as an independent
text in smooth English, but that it is intended as a tool to enable the reader
to follow the Sanskrit text. Accompanying the translation is a very
considerable body of annotation, some of it devoted to laying bare doubts about
the constitution of the text, about how to interpret the syntax, about the
author's idioms, word-choice, and particle-use, and about details of Saiva theology that are alluded to, but most of it intended
to help the reader follow each step of argumentation. This style of
translation-more like the Pompidou Centre, with all its pipes and ducts and,
cables picked out in bright colours and exposed to view, than the Musee du Quai Branly, clothed in
a "living wall" of leafy green naturalness-will not appeal to all.
But it is perhaps most suited to this sort of text, a fascinatingly rich, but
rather tough piece of exegetical writing, the study of which casts light not
only on the history of Saiva thought, but on a number
of theological and philosophical doctrines for which little other testimony
The Paremoksanirasokarika: of Sadyojyotih (675-'725 CE)2
is a text of 59
verses that lists and then refutes twenty positions regarding the nature of
liberation (moksa). Its commentary by Ramakantha (950-1000 CE) expounds the twenty positions, not necessarily in the way Sadyojyotih understood them, and then refutes them,
occasionally just by elaborating Sadyojyotih's
refutation, but frequently by adding long digressions and new arguments.
The twenty positions are listed in the left-hand
column of Figure 1.
They are given
there in the order in which they are listed by Sadyojyotih,
and expounded by Ramakantha (which happens to be
different from the order in which they are refuted).
The proponents of these positions are never named by
Sadyojyotih, and only very occasionally by Ramakantha. But enough evidence can be garnered to propose
identifications of the proponents in almost all cases. These are listed in the
right hand column.
The texts thus give us a view outwards on to what
traditions Saiddhantikas (= those belonging to Sadyojyotih and Ramakantha's tradition, the Saiva
Siddhanta) in the final centuries of the first millennium
saw surrounding their own, whom they regarded as their rivals, and which
doctrines and arguments of these opponents they considered to require
refutation. Of Ramakantha's nine surviving texts+
five have up to now been partially translated into a Western language" and
one completely. 6 This publication adds a second complete translation.
This is one of the most interesting of Ramakantha's texts for Indologists
who are not specifically concerned with Saiva Siddhanta, because of the snapshot it provides of the religio-philosophical landscape of tenth-century India.
About half of the twenty positions are well known from other sources, but the
other half have left little trace elsewhere in Sanskrit literature. The text
thus offers a unique glimpse of certain forgotten conceptions that came to be
swamped by those of the classical traditions. Some of them seem to be unknown
even to Ramakantha, having presumably been pushed
into obscurity in the centuries between Sadyojyotih's
time and his own.? The value, for the historian of
ideas, of this record of archaic views is not only that it provides a fuller
picture of the variety of conceptions of liberation, but also that it helps to
explain the genesis of some of the more well-known classical views."
The verses and Ramakantha's
commentary contain sections only for the twenty positions that are refuted,
having no separate section giving the authors' own Saiddhantika
view. This is presented in. Sadyojyotih's Moksakarika and its commentary by Ramakantha, the Moksakarika being
considered to some extent a separate text, and to some extent part of a larger
text encompassing it, the Paramoksanirasokarika and others.? It should not be thought,
though, that our texts are of no value to those seeking to understand the philosophy
and theology of Saiva Siddhanta.
We get insights into Saiddhantika thinking at every
stage of the refutations, for in refuting rival traditions Sadyojyotih's
and Ramakantha's own presuppositions are brought to
bear, and we see what separates their own thinking from that of their
opponents. The Saiddhantika view of liberation,
furthermore, is expounded in passing at several points in Ramakantha's
commentary (ad verses 6-'7, 27, 31-32, 37-42).
The Saiddhantika view is
that liberation consists in the manifestation of the soul's innate qualities of
omniscience and omnipotence. The soul is then the same as God (isvarasama),
where 'same' means qualitatively identical but numerically distinct. This is
very close to views 18, 19 and 20, which
also hold that the liberated soul is the same as God, being omniscient and
omnipotent. They differ from each other and from the Saiddhantika
view in their explanations of how omniscience and omnipotence become associated
with the liberated soul. In view 18 those two qualities arise from scratch (Utpattivada); in view 19 they are transferred from God (Sankrantivada); in view 20 the soul is possessed by them, as one can be possessed by a spirit (Avesavada); in the Saiddhantika
view, omniscience and omnipotence already exist in souls prior to liberation in
an unmanifest state, and at liberation they become
manifest as a result of the removal of the soul's Impurity (Abhivyaktivada).
Sadyojyotih and Ramakantha
divide views 18, 19 and 20 off
from the rest (see verses 6 and 7). Ramakantha
describes the proponents of these three views as 'belonging to our own
meaning not that they are quite Saiddhantikas but
that, unlike the proponents of all the other seventeen positions, they belong
to the same wider (Saiva) religion.
The twenty views are not classified by our authors
in any way other than by this dividing off of the last three, and the aligning
of them with the Saiva Siddhanta.
But here are two ways in which they could be arranged thematically.
(1) The views can be differentiated through the following sequence of
dichotomies (see Figure 2). First there are those that
are theistic and those that are non-theistic, a 'theistic' view being one
according to which the liberated soul exists alongside, below or, in one case,
above God. Those which are non-theistic can then be subdivided into those
according to which not only is there no God, but there
is also no self, and those for whom what exists in the liberated state is a
self. Into the former category fall the Buddhist and Carvaka views. Finally,
those which accept a self can be subdivided into those for whom individuality
is preserved in liberation, and those for whom liberation consists in the
dissolution of the individual self. In the first camp the principal
proponents are Sankhya and Nyaya;
in the second they are Advaita Vedanta and Pancaratra.
(2) Liberation has been
contrasted with another goal of Indian religion, the acquisition of
supernatural powers (siddhis), by regarding the pursuit of the former as
a search for 'freedom from', and the pursuit of the latter as a search for
'freedom to' There is no denying that the liberated states of the Buddhists, Naiyayikas, Vaisesikas, Sankhyas and Advaita Vedantins,
involving as they do a complete lack of cognition and action, are strongly
marked by a propensity for 'freedom from'. But this tendency
was rejected, and indeed ridiculed," by other traditions, for example the
theistic ones. In .many of these we find a pronounced predilection for
'freedom to' in the omniscience and omnipotence that they claim to be the
culmination of the path they teach. Once the diversity of liberation doctrines
is taken into account, the dichotomy of the two kinds of freedom becomes useful
not because we can equate one kind with liberation, but because we see how the
two kinds are differentially present within the various liberation doctrines.
The twenty views can be laid out on a continuum, the two poles of which are the
two types of freedom.
At one extreme we have the Buddhist view according
to which liberation consists not just in freedom from suffering but freedom
from existence itself. Here there is clearly no 'freedom to' know or do
anything. This was not the only Buddhist view but it is the one that is given in our text (view 16). With the Buddhists fall the Carvakas. They too maintain (view 17) that the individual
completely ceases to exist, though for them this 'liberation' happens to
everyone at death, and is not an achievement accruing only to the enlightened.
To the right of these two come the Naiyayikas and Vaisesikas, They do maintain (view 15)
that the individual continues to exist in liberation, but without any
consciousness or agency. Here we have freedom from knowing and doing, but not
freedom from existence. Next come the Sankhyas (view 1), Advaita Vedantins (view 3) and Pancaratrikas (view 4). Consciousness continues in
liberation for these, but it is a consciousness that is completely devoid of
objects of experience. The light of consciousness is switched on in the
liberated souls of these traditions, unlike in liberated Naiyayikas
and Vaisesikas, but it is a light that, as it were,
shines out into empty space without illuminating anything.
So all of these conceptions
of liberation deny the presence of any changing states of consciousness,
something that attracted comment from Andre BAREAU. Having said of Buddhist nirvatta (1973: 94) that it either
must be pure nothingness in which nothing of the person remains, or 'must have resembled
a profound and dreamless sleep, a complete unconsciousness', he goes on to
write: To people who, like all Indians. believed
themselves to pass without ceasing, without rest, immediately, from one
existence to another, that is to say from one series of states of consciousness
to another, that eternal and complete peace of psychic nothingness must have
seemed desirable, whereas it has always terrified people in the West.
This is an important reflection on the question of
why a complete lack of experience was promoted by some as the highest
aspiration and the upper limit of human achievement But as we continue along
the continuum, we will see that such a contentless
liberation was desirable neither to all Indians, nor even to all of those who
believed themselves to pass ceaselessly from one incarnation to another.
Next comes view 12 in our text, according to
which liberation consists just in freedom from impurity (mala). Here we reach the first view that postulates knowing and
doing in the liberated state. Then in views 8, 11 and 13, which
are examined in some detail in section 5.2 of this Introduction, the power of knowing becomes expanded in
liberation into omniscience, though the power of action is not found. In
the views dealt
with before this paragraph, the goal of freedom from suffering is taken to
necessitate freedom from all cognitive experience, including that which is
either pleasurable or neutral. In the views so far mentioned in this paragraph,
cognitive activity continues, but it is not clear whether pleasure is present.
Pleasure may have been regarded as only possible if alternating with suffering,
its nature and existence deriving from a contrast with the latter. But in view 2 we find an explicit
rejection of the presupposition that freedom from suffering requires also
freedom from pleasure; the upholders of this view maintain that in liberation
souls experience pure, uninterrupted, unexcelled and unbounded (suddhanirantaraniratisayanavacchinna)
With the postulation of this kind of pleasure and of
omniscience, we have arrived at views according to which liberation entails not
just the removal of life's possibilities (such as suffering), but the addition
of things not possible in the life of the unliberated.
words we have arrived at conceptions of liberation that involve an element of
'freedom to'. This becomes more pronounced as we continue through the remaining
views. These last two views still deny any action on the part of the liberated;
though cognitive powers may increase, agency decreases. That changes at this
point of the continuum.
Liberation as conceived of by the proponents of view
7 involves becoming one of God's principle attendants (mahagana), with all the extra powers
and privileges that this promotion involves. This and view 14 are the only two
of the twenty that conceive of liberation as an embodied state. According to
the latter, the liberated soul sheds its samsaric
body and sense faculties, but takes on new, highly elevated (tarakatara) ones.
This new body and sense faculties, which unlike the previous ones are not
caused by karma and not characterised by pain, allow a liberated existence on
another planet (tarakabhuvane,
literally 'in a world in the stars').
We are nearing the end of the continuum, and the
advocates of all of the remaining four views claim that the liberated soul is
omnipotent. For these proponents, to leave behind one's body and sense
faculties as one enters the liberated state is not to leave behind the
possibility of action; rather it is to expand its potential range. It is not
the body that acts, nor is the body a necessary instrument of agency. It is the
agent, i.e. the soul, that acts; and its agency consists not in moving, but in
causing movement, as a magnet causes movement in iron-filings without itself
moving. Having thrown off the bonds that limit the full expression of its power
of action, and without a spatially limited body to restrict its sphere of
operation (its 'magnetic field'), this sphere becomes equal in extent to that
of the soul itself, i.e. all-pervading.
The difference between the four views (9, 18, 19 and 20) is just that, though they
all postulate omnipotence and omniscience, in view 9 the operation of this omnipotence
is subject to God's instigation, so that such souls lack complete autonomy.'?
We now introduce more detail about those views whose
treatment by Sadyojyotih and Ramakantha
is of most philosophical or historical interest.
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